The T-Shirt Test: How to Easily Identify Quality Garments

When shopping for men's shirts, the quest for finding the perfect balance between style, comfort, and durability can be overwhelming. Purchasing a new T-shirt may appear easy, but it's actually quite complex. 

Since t-shirts are so common, you might not pay close attention to their quality while shopping. With countless brands and designs available in the market, how can one distinguish a high-quality shirt from a low-quality one? 

What's more, many manufacturers have become experts at concealing poor craftsmanship. This article will guide you through various factors to consider while assessing the quality of a shirt and help you make informed choices for your wardrobe.

1. Material and Fabric

The foundation of a good-quality shirt lies in its fabric. The type of material used can significantly affect the shirt's overall look, feel, and longevity. Here are some key points to consider when examining the fabric of men's shirts:

Natural vs. Synthetic Fibres

Natural fibres like cotton, linen, and silk are generally more breathable, comfortable, and durable than synthetic materials such as polyester, rayon, or nylon. Premium quality shirts often use 100% cotton or a blend of cotton with a small percentage of synthetic fibres for added strength and elasticity.

Thread Count

Thread count signifies the quantity of horizontal and vertical threads found in every square inch of fabric. A greater thread count denotes a more dense, smooth, and long-lasting material. Men's shirts of decent quality typically have a thread count ranging from 120 to 150, whereas high-end shirts can have a thread count of 200 or more.


The weave of a fabric can affect its texture, weight, and appearance. Popular weave styles for men's shirts include Oxford, Twill, and Poplin. When choosing a shirt, look for uniformity and tightness in the weave, as this indicates better quality.

2. Construction and Stitching

The way a shirt is put together plays a significant role in its overall quality. Pay close attention to the following aspects while evaluating the construction of men's shirts:

Seams and Stitching

High-quality shirts have neat, even, and secure stitching along the seams, with no loose threads or fraying. The stitches should be close together and consistent throughout the garment. A general benchmark for quality is 18-22 stitches per inch.


A high-quality shirt collar should be sturdy, well-structured, and sit smoothly on the neck. Look for collars with removable collar stays, which help maintain the shape and integrity of the collar over time. Poor-quality shirts may have flimsy collars that do not hold their shape well.


Quality cuffs should be firm, hold their shape, and have clean, tight stitching. The buttons on the cuffs should be securely attached and not easily pulled off. Double-button and French cuffs, which require cufflinks, are often seen as indicators of a higher-quality shirt.

Buttons and Buttonholes

Buttons should be securely attached, with no loose threads or uneven spacing. High-quality shirts often have shanked buttons, which sit slightly raised from the fabric and allow for easier buttoning. Buttonholes should be cleanly cut and reinforced with tight, consistent stitching.

3. Fit and Comfort

A good-quality shirt should not only look great but also feel comfortable when worn. Keep the following tips in mind when assessing the fit and comfort of men's shirts:


Check the sizing information the manufacturer or retailer provides to ensure you select the right size for your body measurements. A well-fitting shirt should allow for ease of movement, with enough room in the chest, shoulders, and waist, without appearing too tight or loose.

Sleeve Length

The sleeves of a good-quality shirt should be long enough to reach the wrist bone and allow for a slight bend in the arm without pulling or restricting movement. Poor-quality shirts may have sleeves that are too short or too long, which can look sloppy and feel uncomfortable.

Darts and Pleats

Darts are small, tapered seams sewn into the fabric to give the shirt a more fitted shape. They are often placed on the back of the shirt, running vertically from the waist to the shoulders. Darts can help create a more flattering silhouette, especially for those with a more athletic or slim build.

Pleats are small folds in the fabric that are sewn down to create extra room for movement and comfort. They are commonly found on the back of the shirt, either in the centre or on the sides. There are three main types of pleats:

  • Box Pleat: A single, wide pleat in the centre of the back, which allows for more room and movement across the shoulders.
  • Side Pleats: Two smaller pleats located on either side of the back, which provide extra room for movement while maintaining a more fitted look.
  • Inverted Pleat: A single pleat that is folded inward, creating a V-shape on the back of the shirt. This type of pleat is more decorative and less functional.

When choosing a shirt, consider whether darts or pleats will work best for your body type and personal preferences. A darted shirt may be more suitable for those with a slim or athletic build, while pleats can provide extra room and comfort for those with broader shoulders or a larger frame.


Selecting a high-quality t-shirt requires attention to detail and a thorough understanding of various factors that determine the garment's quality. With this guide, you should be able to identify the key indicators of a good quality shirt and avoid investing in poor-quality clothes that do not meet your expectations. 

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